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Language and style never moves beyond a concentration on the supremacy of words. These words somehow contain meanings, style is effectively language manipulated in ways that signal it as different from ‘ordinary’ language.  A stylistic analysis of folksong is carried out to educate, explicate and expose to everybody that comes across this work, in guiding them on how to analyse. The data used to illustrate and substantiate our claims are systematically sourced from warife community in the course of our field trip.  It has been discovered that stylistic analysis is relevant in Khana folksong for effective communication and proper understanding and that there exists a fold called African oral literature of which folksong is a part. Finally, we find that each of the stylistic features however, has identifiable function which contribute to the effective meaning of the folksongs. It can therefore be concluded that these features trigger and play important roles in passing the intention of the singer across. 



1.1       Preamble

Stylistics as a discipline has been an area of interest to many scholars whose preoccupation is to study the individual style of literary and non-literary texts, and the method of analyzing such texts. It refers to the manner in which people express themselves through writing and speaking. According to Crystal and Davy (1969:9) “stylistics has been defined as the sub-discipline of linguistics that is concerned with the systematic analysis of style in language”.  In their opinion, the language here has to do with spoken and written language and how this can vary according to such factors as: genre, context, historical period and author. In other words, stylistics is essentially language based and entails a step by step description of linguistics patterns or oral linguistic text, to establish their full meaning potential.  However, it is said that the origin of stylistics is traced from three classical Greek disciplines, namely rhetoric, poetics and dialects through the middle ages to the European, Romantic and French tradition of ‘Explication de Texte’ and then through the French ‘stylus’ – a written instrument (Ufot 2013:7). 

This definition stresses the fact that language is very important in stylistics because, the various patterns and levels of linguistic structure of text are considered. Therefore, it investigates a particular writer’s characteristic choice of word (lexis), sound (phonology), writing format (graphology), phrase and clause structure (grammar) and meaning (semantics). It also studies the varieties of language whose properties position that language in context, so that we have the language of politics, law, religion, advertising, which are done through various styles of writing. Style, therefore, is concerned with the deviation from norms and with frequency of linguistic items in a given context and thus with contextual possibilities (Enkvist, Spencer and Gregory, 1965, p.11). This implies that the style of a writer varies in language use, because of the choice of words used to suit a particular context.  However, the conventional analysis of style confers, on discourse pattern, sentence structure, diction and use of figures of speech; it is a conscious choice on the part of the writer and speaker (Ufot 2006:16).

Stylistics is a close and intensive investigation of spoken and written communication in order to determine the effectiveness of the style of a language and other devices. It is assumed that the process of analysis will reveal the good qualities of writing. A stylistics analysis, however, is not a mere exercise which analyses the features of language in a piece of communication. It employs linguistic techniques of analysis in a bid to provide a coherent and unified synthesis of language use in different parts of a text in relation to the content and purpose. The general goal, therefore, is to facilitate the interpretation of the text so analyzed, in relation to folksongs.

Folksong has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, or as music with unknown composers. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. One meaning often given is that of old songs, with no composers; another is music that has been transmitted and evolved by a process of oral transmission or performed by custom over a long period of time.

There are various ways in which language is used to communicate by human beings in their various community. Richard Waterman as quoted by folklore definitions says that “folklore is that form, comprising various types of stories, proverbs, sayings, spells, song, incantations and other formulas which employ spoken language as its medium”. 

Folksongs are an aspect of a culture of a group of people. It is one of the forms of communication used by human beings to communicate in their communities.  According to Kim Reuhl (2009) folksongs can be viewed as a product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission and is determined either by continuity which links the presence with the past; the style which is used in the song springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group and/or selection by the community which determines the form in which the music survives. Folksongs encompass every aspect of life of a group of people, their religion, their joys and burdens etc.

The style of folksongs is that which is peculiar to the field of stylistics. Mills (1974) writing on “the heart of folksong” emphasized that anthropologists have found that song and singing have been very important in the life of early cultures.  Infact Mills (1974) claims that primitive societies existing today allow researcher to view the importance of music in the rituals, religious ceremonies and recreation of these cultures. Traditional folksongs give reminders of the characteristics of mankind in their living, loving, toiling and suffering.  The personal quality of folksong makes the persons and events very real to the listener who closely identifies with those specific feelings. This probably is what makes the folksong of every race, land or people to be of vital importance.

1.2       Background of the Study

This work, the stylistic analysis of folksong is based on the data collected from the native speakers of Khana language which is spoken in Warife community, deputy chief of the community (Chief Gbarakae Leeh Iniabe).  They also speak and understand Anaang language. Warife is a village in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

The name “Warife” is an Igbani language meaning “our house”.  The name came about when the Europeans occupied the Imo River. The actual name of the community before the Europeans arrival was “Ikot Eriam”, it was given the name because the place was full of the “Eriam weed”, which is called “wii soe”. 

From the history laid down by their ancestors, Warife community came to be in the 14th century. The great grandfather of the founder of the village came from Ghana and migrated into the “Kwa River” and came along up to “Opopo” boundary and beyond, demarcated by the Imo River. As they settled there, there were going about looking for what to eat because it was the era of migration.  One of the sons, a hunter and a farmer, left Opopo and crossed the present Imo River (which as at then was a small stream that one could walk over) into the community and started hunting and looking for food.  Some of the fruits he dropped later germinated and he saw that the soil was fertile.  He decided he would be going to the community often and going back to visit his parents. He later settled in the place and began his hunting and farming.

He had neighbours who were living around him as at that time. These neighbours include; Tee Etok, Ikot Asute, Ikot Oto and Ikot Akpansek.  He was friendly with these neighbours but because of the difficulty in communication, the neighbours stayed far away from him.  As a result of this barrier, their farms were three or more miles away from their neighbours.  Their neighbours later came close to them because of intermarriage between them.

The founder of the community later went back to marry from his father’s home because his language and that of his neighbours was not mutually intelligible.  He married a Ghanaian woman.

With time, the area later developed and has five original families.  The founder of the community is Mene Bene which makes up the first family.  Omoto is the second family, who is the son of Mene Bene.  He went back to his home land and brought back his father Gbene Mene  Bene which is the third family.  Gbene Mene Bene had a son called Mene Ogu making up the fourth family. They were finally joined by Luewi which makes up the fifth family.  They all make up the five major families in the community.

They have settled peacefully from then till date.  The people of the community are mainly farmers.

Source: ( Chief Gbarakae Leeh Iniabe)

1.3       Statement of the Problem

This research seeks to undertake a study of a stylistic analysis of folksongs in Khana language which has not been done before now, so this research will address itself to analyzing these folksongs stylistically and examining the uniqueness of stylistics.  It is also addressing itself to examining how words are put together in transferring of message to the readers. As such, these research will go along way in preserving the folksong of Khana so that the present and upcoming generation will be exposed to the folksong of their community.

1.4       Research Questions

This research desires to answer the following questions.

1.            Are there any stylistic features present in Khana folksongs?

2.            Does African oral literature exist?

3.            Is folksong part of African oral literature?

4.            Are folksongs present in Khana language?

5.            Does folksongs make meaning or are they senseless songs?

6.            Is there any importance of folksongs to the community?

1.5       Research Objectives

            Some of the objectives of this research include:

1.         To reverse the trend, where a community abandon their culture and to highlight the functions of folksongs in the typical society using Khana  language as an example.

2.         This research aimed at bringing to the fore the aesthetic value of folksongs and its role in culture preservation and history transmission.

3.         To attempt a careful analysis and the description of the features of style in Khana folksongs.

4.         The effects and functions of the stylistic features as regards the folksongs will be looked at in the analysis.

1.6       Significance of the study

This research would be of immense significance in several ways; firstly, it would be beneficial to the community, and people who are interested in folksongs especially scholars and students in higher institutions, who are interested in knowing the style and choice of words used in literary analysis in particular. Secondly, it will serve as a prospect of making their folksong a documented one, this will enable other researchers in discovering the stylistic features in Khana folksong

1.7       Delimitation of the Study

This research is on one particular language, which is Khana language spoken in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State.

However, it will dwell primarily on stylistics analysis of folksongs in Khana language.  Due to the limited time given, it was not possible to conduct a research to cover all aspects of Khana folksongs, being that the language was a bit difficult to understand. What was done was to collect data from the population, mostly the elderly women and men at the Warife primary school.  Therefore, this research exercise is limited to only few folksongs, to ensure that an authentic result is obtained.

1.8       Research Methodology

The method used in this research is descriptive, being the analysis of style used in Khana folksongs, as against prescriptive, which is the formulation of rules to state what should and what should not be used, without recourse to the people’s style.

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